That is the nature of leadership - the people around the leader want to please him or her. That is why they are there, especially in churches. Most staff members have no desire to become the senior pastor; we're pretty content being the second chair (see "Leading from the Second Chair," an excellent book by Bonem and Patterson). Pastors need not be threatened by their staff and most of them are not. However, pastors rarely get the unvarnished truth from their staff. Staff often go out of their way to avoid telling their bosses what is really going on with the staff and/or with the members whom they see. Staff don't want to tell bad news to their superior. Staff will do almost anything to shield their leader from reality. Why?
- they don't want to get punished as the messenger of the bad news.
- they might be asked to dig deeper into this and that might cause them to find even more unpleasant things
- they don't know how to tell their boss bad news
I can tell you it begins with the leader - as these two presidents stated. The leader must get the right people, give explicit rights to certain members of his/her inner circle to speak very frankly as needed, and then receive that info as info (not as criticism) in a way that will invite further honesty. After all, a leader must have people of integrity around him/her all the time - anything less hurts the organization and its purpose.